1.31.2011

Why I Won't Eat Chick-Fil-A (And Why It Hurts So So Bad)

So it's probably not news to you, but Chick-Fil-A has been called out for supporting (however indirect) anti Gay Marriage groups. And because of that, Andrea and I have made a decision not to financially support Chick-Fil-A until the financial and/or donation support, whether by CFA or Winshape (their charity), stops with groups we don't support.

This is not a call to protest Chick-Fil-A. You can do what you like. Besides, I don't believe in slacktivist bellowing from the pages of my blog. I long ago quit trying to convince everyone to join me in my protests. If I have bad service at, say, Wal-Mart or Best Buy, I just don't go there anymore. I don't care that they still exist, I can't really wage that war. But I can control where the money that I work for goes, and so long as Chick-Fil-A helps an organization that promotes keeping friends of mine from enjoying a right that should be universal, they won't get my money.

And that fucking sucks, because we ate Chick-Fil-A three nights a week, no joke. I LOVE Chick-Fil-A. Every one of my friends from other locations in the US has heard my adoration of Chick-Fil-A, and when they come here, they try it and their first thought is, "Wow, you totally overhyped this."

Then about 2-3 days later, they say "You know what I could go for? Some Chick-Fil-A." The sandwich isn't an insane ten-out-of-ten tasty amazing sandwich -- I fully believe that's what makes them so great. They're a solid standard on which you can rely -- not overpowering you with flavor, but delicious all the same. They're the best of the best.

And they're also much healthier than other fast food, serving real honest-to-God chicken, instead of form-pressed chicken-like stuff. And when you couple it with a salad and some lemonade, you have a bone fide southern delicacy.

And it's a shame that I can't have it anymore. And yes, Jeremy, that means you too when you come down here.

1.24.2011

Want To Give Me A Birthday Present? Follow My Crap

Want to do something special for the person who is me that is awesome on this day that is the anniversary of when I was thrust upon this land and the world changed and nothing's been the same since?

Well, do this for me:

Like my books' Facebook page

Follow me on Twitter

Follow this blog on Google Connect

Friend me on Facebook

YAY! Now you're ready to drink from the firehose of my brain! I love you!

1.20.2011

Diarrhea, Vomiting And Wreckless Driving

So, I've been a little sick to my tummy the past day or so. And I'm out of Pepto. So I went to the store this evening to get some.

On the way, someone stopped short in front of me and I had to swerve to miss them... Right into a neighbor's mailbox and fully loaded trash can.

Trash went flying everywhere. But it seems all the old food ended up all over my hood and windshield.

When my truck slid to a stop in the snowmelt-saturated yard, I got out and had to clean up someone else's trash.

Someone. Else's. Trash. Trash that, if it was anything like my trash, has been sitting there for a week and a half due to delayed trash pick up during the snowpocalypse a week ago.

Someone else's leftover food, and spoiled milk dried in old containers, and pizza crust bits, and ashtray dumps and coffee grounds.

And that was gross.

But what really got me was the pile of ramen noodles resting on my windshield wiper with a milk ring right in the middle of it.

So yeah, I puked all over my truck, with the slowly drying ramen and a few half-opened Papa John's garlic dipping sauce cups.

When I drove up to the place where you drive in straight and the guy tells you to turn slightly right and then slightly left to line up exactly right, even though you probably already were straight to begin with, he looked at the goop on the front of the truck and gagged.

It would have been SO awesome if he puked too, so then there'd be his puke on my puke on the old ramen noodles and garlic sauce cups. But that didn't happen, so my day FUCKING SUCKED because that guy let me down. Motherfucker.

Annnnnnnnd I have to buy the neighbors a new mailbox.

And that was my day. How was yours?

1.18.2011

Your Child's Not Autistic, You're Just An Attention Whore

*Updates below the post*

Seems to me, this rash epidemic of Autism spreading around our nation has only gotten worse as more attention is placed on these special little kids. In fact, I personally know seven parents/couples who claim their kids have it. Seven. And that's not including people I know through Facebook -- these are real life red-blooded human beings I have face to face conversations with on at least a monthly basis.

One thing all of these parents have in common: they say the words "Autism," "Autistic" or "Special" at least three times in every single conversation about their kid(s). Another thing they all have in common: they're complete attention whores.

Now, I'm not going to outright state that every parent claiming to have an Autistic child is actually just an attenion whore. But given the sampling I have access to, I will say most of them are. You might have a child that's actually autistic, or you may just have a fucking brat who acts out because you're a shitty parent who can't handle raising it and you want the world to know it's not your fault.

Gee, an impossible-to-diagnose condition affecting behavior and intelligence that is not really "retarded" to the point you have to be there with a napkin and restraints every time your kid attempts to eat Cherrios, but is just retarded enough to get you some attention.

Sure, you took little Johnny into the pediatrician to be diagnosed, and sure enough, you got a diagnosis -- just like my mom and every other mom did in the 90's with ADD, and the 80's with hyperactivity. Anything to get you taking more pills. Because Autism can't be medically diagnosed.

And the best part -- this particular form of ailment actually implies your kid is smarter than the average kid, and that's part of why he acts out and you can't control him. You get to be the parent of a top tier intellect without all that actual parenting!

Of course, there is a such thing as Autism. I do believe it's real. And I do believe there are kids who have it. And I do admire the parents who raise such children without making it their sole identity as a person.

But the thing is, it's gotten now so that anytime a kid flings mashed potatoes across a room with a spoon, the kid is suddenly so advanced in intelligence and has a neurological condition that won't allow him to adapt socially with "average children."

In all seven of the cases I mention above, the kids are just plain out of control brats. They know what they're doing. They're mischevious and calculating and getting away with everything because they're "mildly Autistic." I think it's so much more plausible that they're mildly aware of how to be a fucking parent.

And yes, I'm sure they're going to read this, and I'm sure I'm about to become a social pariah at the parents' play groups. But I hated taking my cats to those things anyway.


*Updated 11:36 AM

You know what's sad and funny at the exact same time? The fact that people can't be bothered to read a thing in its entirety. I do know parents with actually Autistic children, and they behave exactly the opposite of screaming brats. It's actually really hurting the reputation of good, honest, hard-working, dedicated parents who actually have children who cannot respond to them emotionally that these attention whores would go and just paste the label du jour over their kid's bad behavior.

But hey, be knee-jerk and reactionary if you want. It doesn't bother me that you, who profess to have known me all this time; who have lauded my attacks against faux Christians and hypocritical Atheists and people who profess not to be racist and then say something horribly racist; all of a sudden get offended when something I say hits too close to home.

I've had two intelligent conversations and no fewer than 15 completely incoherent, rambling conversations about this post this morning, via phone, email and Facebook. The two intelligent conversations? Actual friends, who actually know me, who have actually autistic children, who actually appreciated what I wrote.

The other 15? Who knows, they were too busy listening to themselves to let me get a word in edgewise. And another ~35 whose only response was to send a scathing email and then unfriend me on Facebook or block me on Twitter? Good fucking riddance.

It's really simple: "Parents" are human beings who fucked and had kids. Nothing more, nothing less. What they do as parents mark their quality as parents, nothing more, nothing less. You have a kid? Good -- you also have a responsibility. You have a kid with Autism? Okay, you have even MORE responsibility.

Going around and blabbing about your kid's condition to your social group is the exact same as going around and blabbing about your kid's latest no-hitter in the t-ball game. At the end of the day, you're just a status-seeking person, and your latest badge of honor is your kid's issues.

Of COURSE I don't mean you shouldn't talk about it. You should. You should discuss it and talk it out and all the things that happen when you're with your friends and they ask how your day was. You know the difference. Don't be that person.

1.17.2011

Because Of The Day



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1.15.2011

In Which I Paraphrase A Friend's Philosophy On Getting Things Done And Concequently Piss Him Off Probably

I was hanging out with my good buddy Casey Edwards at Studio Revolver yesterday, and between discussions on how important Akira is and how awful Alien3 was, we got into the topic of getting stuff done, motivation, and wanting things bad enough to sacrifice what it takes to do them. And on this topic, Casey said something that rang completely true and opened my eyes to the difference between honest motivation and posteuring:

"Most people love to masturbate. There are guys who make time to masturbate every single day, and there's a damn good reason why. If you love something enough, you'll find the time."

Poignant.

1.14.2011

You Still Believe In Astrology? You're A Big Fucking Idiot

It was revealed yesterday that there's a 13th astrology sign: Ophiuchus. It was also revealed that the actual dates for star signs are wrong as well, and have been for many hundreds of years.

So, let's say your birthday is, say, January 24th (like mine), and you've been following astrological guides all this time, you've thought that, as an Aquarian, you were predisposed to be independent, objective, detached, original, humanitarian, intellectual, friendly, people-oriented, progressive, blah de blah...

And now, it's been revealed that you're actually a Capricorn, and you're actually predisposed to be Thoughtful, cautious, reserved, stubborn, and snobbish -- almost the exact opposite of the description of an Aquarian?

Doesn't this really mean that you're simply predisposed to being a fucking idiot for putting even the smallest amount of stock in this horseshit? I mean... You're not who you thought the stars made you! Does this mean you have to go and change personalities? Are you going to fall back on "Well, I've always had those traits as well..." or start talking about Capricorn rising or whatever the hell?

Or can you just admit it's all hogwash and hooey? Finally?

If the stars govern your personality and fate, and you've been believing the wrong fates and descriptions of yourself because there was actually a missing 13th sign, doesn't that mean the thing you've used to govern your life is fundamentally flawed and you should immediately abandon it as a guide? I mean, if my accountant suddenly said "Dude, i just learned this new math thing -- multiplication! I never knew about that before..." I'd invent a time machine so I could go back to the day I hired him and kick myself in the nuts for being a retard and not realizing how stupid he is.

Astrology believers: That's you. You've hired an accountant who has been using the wrong math all this time. Actually, it's worse than that: you've not hired an accountant, you've hired an Astrologer, someone whose business deals in made-up nonsense. Fire him and grow up. Your fate is your own. The stars don't tell you who you are, you do -- even if you choose to make yourself what the "stars" say you should be, you're doing that. You.

I think my new litmus test for wanting to actually be your friend will be how many times your stupid "My Horoscope" crap comes up in my Facebook News feed. Once, and you're out.

1.13.2011

Dammit, Not This Shit Again... (AKA New Years + The Gym)

Hi folks. It's the middle of January, and you know what that means -- I've pretty much reached my tolerance of New Years Resolutioners at the gym. Not the type who decide they want to get fit, or the type that'll be gone by March (or, in most cases, February). These folks, I've grown to realize, are simply unfortunate souls trapped by the bounds of their own weakness, with periodic bouts with good intentions. And good for them for trying.

No, I'm referring to the guys (almost exclusively) who come in and think they know all the things they are supposed to know and proceed to get on machines and either a) leave them filthy, b) waste way too much time on them and not share, or c) break them.

I have written before my rules of the gym and have even written up a beginner's guide to the gym - both of which have been well received and read, so I'm not going to repost all that. No, I'm going to basically give you one piece of advice. Just one. A simple one, too. It requires no money, no new equipment, and only a little time.

Ready? Here it is:

Stand back and watch.

Really, it's that simple. If you're new to the gym, whether you think you know it all because you saw that montage in Rocky, or have no clue what's going on, just stand back for about 10 minutes and watch people use the equipment. Try to single out those who look like they know what they're doing -- you'll know who they are because they're quietly happy and in control of their machines / weights.

Watch how they pull the weight off the rack and handle it. Watch as they balance each side of the bar with plates of equal weight before adding the next plate to a side, so it doesn't tip off the rack. Watch as they warm up, and how they slowly move the weight off the rack instead of bursting off with full force and flinging the weights around.

Notice how much weight they have on their bar -- enough to do 10 or 12 or 20 times without grunting, screaming, yelling, flinging or having 3 spotters around. Watch as they finish their sets and re-rack the weight.

Just take a minute. Be patient. Slow down and watch. And if you still have questions, ask someone. Absorb some of what you're watching, take it in, process it. And slow down. Don't fling weights. Don't overload one side of the bar. Don't drop your weights when you're done using them. Don't slam the handles of the cable machines into the sides of the machine. Don't fling the weights in order to make your friends laugh. Don't overload your machine to impress the hot chick near you (since you won't be there for the next two weeks to see her due to your impending hernia).

Now, if you can't follow that advice, I have one other tidbit for you: stay away from me. Because I have two ears full of Pantera and enough adrenaline surging through me that I'm likely not going to help you when you're pinned under a 315lb bar on the bench press because you were trying to impress your buddy. I'm going to laugh. And I'm going to laugh with that menacing, gruff Phil Anselmo voice that makes you cry inside.

Good luck.

1.11.2011

Fine, I'll React To The Arizona Tragedy

I've been asked a bit why I haven't posted anything about the Arizona tragedy.

Because it's not relevant to this blog, that's why. But hey, Dooce posted this whole thing about "dialogue" and mental illness and basically decided to take the coward's way out in regards to the Arizona shootings. She's taking a stand in her blog... Or rather, failing to quite spectacularly. I love Heather lots and lots, she gave me some really great advice when I was being courted by publishers for my 2nd book. But her post about Arizona is a little weak, honestly.

So I'm going to go the other way. I want to be among the first to encourage everyone to take back sanity in this nation by using Second Amendment justice on people who think Second Amendment justice is a justifiable answer to poltical discource. That's right: I want you to shoot Sarah Palin.

In the face. With a firearm. So that she dies.

I actively encourage this. I want you to do it. Please. Someone shoot her.

Shoot Glenn Beck too. Please.

In fact if I could rap, I'd write a song about going and gunning down every figure on the extremist right that disagrees with me! But luckily, someone already has. It's a group I'm a HUGE fan of and have loved for years. It's Public Enemy, and they did it in 1991 in By The Time I Get To Arizona:



(Can't see the video? click here)


So, am I serious? Do I need to tone it back? Should I be held accountable if someone takes it upon themselves to go and shoot Sarah Palin in the face with a firearm and she dies?

Does it matter? Haven't we gotten to the point in this nation where there's no such thing as civil discource? Aren't we all at the point of reaction instead of action? I think we are. I think we're a nation of people with megaphones, all looking to drown out every other voice with our own. It doesn't matter the opinion anymore. It's just how hard it can be driven into your skull... How loudly.

Guys, in 1991, Public Enemy released the video I linked above, which depicted them gunning down the governor of the state of Arizona because they voted down the Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday. It was a HUGE FUCKING DEAL. It was banned on MTV after only one aring. My father refused to let me watch it.

What if a black extremist had actually done this back then? What would have happened?

What if it was released today and a black extremist went and gunned down an Arizona politician?

Would Chuck D respond? Would he try to avoid the topic and scrub YouTube of every instance of the video? Would he try to explain that the video actually was depicting paintball guns and the idea wasn't to kill, it was to make white people more colorful (or some other bullshit excuse, akin to the "surveyors mark" thing by Palin)?

These questions aren't rethorical. They're actually VERY important. I don't know if I have any answers, honestly. I think if a black person gunned down the governor of Arizona around the time of the release of this video, Public Enemy would be villified by the right, and First Amendment protectors and music fans would be going absolutely apeshit over artistic espression and freedom of speech and metaphor.

Much like what's happening as the left goes nuts over Palin and Beck and the right's extremist suggestions for politicial revolt. But there's one thing that's absolutely inescapable -- it's gotten to the point where it's just way, way, way, way, WAY too much.

It's sickening and disgusting. And yes, I blame the vitrol and venom for the tragedy in Arizona... But not solely Sarah Palin's surveyor's map or Glenn Beck's Second Amendment justice or any of PETA's animal liberators or anyone else who has gone all fucking wacko with a particular opinion.

It's the climate. They help cause it. And so do we. We participate. And when we don't participate, we allow.

The First Amendment is a fantastic thing, folks. It allows us the freedom to say what we want. But the point was never to get attention or outshout everyone else with that right. It was to convey important ideas. It was to share concepts without the fear of a tyrranic state clamping down on discussion regarding a tyrranic state.

And now, we've gotten to the point where people are actively going to the polls and voting for people who abuse this and actively participate.

I don't know what to do about it, so I just decided that if I can't beat them, I'll join them. So yes, shoot Sarah Palin in the face because I disagree with her. Kill Glenn Beck because you have both the right to bare arms and the right to disagree with him. In fact, kill everyone you disagree with or I disagree with or anyone disagrees with. That's a surefire way to solve the issue; just fucking kill everyone.

Right, left, conservative, liberal, Obama, Palin, Pelosi, Beck... This is what we're all up in arms over? How about we all just breathe for a second and realize that we've been whipped into a frenzy not because our leaders want us to care, but because they want us to stop caring and start reacting. All day long, reaction after reaction. No time to think. No time to consider things.

REACT. NOW.

 Or, maybe, we should all chill the fuck out and assess what the hell it is we're fighting for anymore. Maybe respond instead of reacting all the time.

...Or, just kill them all. Let God sort them out.

1.07.2011

My Book Is $1.30 On Amazon Right Now. Help Me Screw Up The Ranks!

You smell nice today, did you change your shampoo?

Anyway, for whatever reason, the paper edition of my 2nd book dropped mysteriously to $1.30 on Amazon.com today. I want to use this opportunity to march a year-and-a-half old book back up the humor rankings.

Also, I totally love your hair like that.

If you'd like to help me, buy a copy of the book. I'll refund your purchase price if you already have a copy or don't want it, but really, I hate my own writing and even I admit it's worth reading for the cost of a tall Starbucks coffee. Also, post this sucker all over your Facebook and Twitter and Foursquare and Quora and whatever you kids are doing these days.

I love your face in the morning.

If you decide to keep it and want it autographed, send it to me and I'll not only autograph it, i'll draw something silly in the cover. You gotta pay for postage tho, so stick a couple of stamps in the envelope when you mail it. Of course, if you don't want to, you can still read the entire thing (and all the other stories that didn't make it) for free on the book's site.

You're my favorite.

(NOTE: This is NOT the Kindle version. That version is $13. Don't buy that one. Unless, of course, you want to.)



Latest Update:

#2 in Bargain Books, near the top 1000 overall:











Older UPDATEs:

Check it out, we're near #2k overall rank, #8 in bargain books and #24 in Humor!

1.06.2011

Fuck You And Your PhD In English Lit

If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, you might remember this tweet from December 20th:



We're all pretty friendly at my gym. You see the same people all the time, and thankfully, the vast majority of regulars are all pretty friendly, nice, good people. We get along. Some of us do stuff together, like cycling or running events.

What's really interesting though: most of us don't really know what each other do outside of the gym. For the most part, we all pretty much exist as the people we are when we're working out, and that's great. Occasionally, though, someone will find out what I do and we'll talk about it. Sometimes, its about web development. Other times, graphic design. And of course, there'll be times where folks find out I write.

So, a few weeks ago, a dude who works out at my gym chatting me up about publishing and whatnot. He'd been casually mentioning writing and whatnot the past few workouts, going out of his way to say hi.

This is a guy who, previous to this newfound interest in me, shared nods and a few smiles now and again. Occasionally, he'd make a comment about what I was lifting, or a cute girl. But that's about it.

Apparently, one of the people at my gym who reads my blog and stuff told him that I write for a living (which is only sorta true, because I also do a lot of other crap). He asked for my phone number so we could meet up and he could buy me coffee, which is bullshitese for "I really just want to get as much info as i can out of you to accomplish my own goals."

And that's fine. It happens. And I'm 100% okay with it, because that's part of my whole mission: telling people how to do this whole thing for themselves and get their writing out there.

And he did call to ask if we could meet up. But I couldn't make it out that day, because I had an assignment for a client due (which is actually kinda cool, and I'll share it with you guys on Monday). So, instead of understanding my situation and doing what he should have, which was say "Oh, no big deal man, when is good for you? Let's reschedule" (which I would have done), he just starts asking the questions he wanted the answers to. He probably thought it was one hell of a great thing that I couldn't make it, because I just saved him the price of Starbucks to get information.

Now, I don't want to be a dick (yep, contrary to what you may think, I actually do try to be a decent person), So, holding my phone between my shoulder and ear as I resumed working on the project, I said "Really, the only advice i have for everyone is just to sit down and write it out. Even when you think it sucks, or you have no idea where it's going, or how to get it there, just write. You learn on the way."

His response? "Well, I'm okay on how to actually write a book, I do have a PhD in English Lit. I wanted publishing advice."

Oh. This.

So, I told him that it was actually really easy -- he could go to cafepress, lulu or lightning source and set up an account, and put the sucker out there. Basically, all the stuff I put in the No Bullshit Guide.

He got really snippy. "I'm not interested in vanity press," he said with a snide bit of verbal italics around the words "vanity press."

Of course, I tried to educate him on the difference, and it wasnt' doing much good, he wanted contacts at Penguin or advice on how to make some. "Can you introduce me to your editor?" He actually asked.

So I explained that I made my contacts was writing my book on the internet, asking everyone who read me to tell their friends, publishing the paper book myself and selling thousands of copies to people who supported me. "Penguin came to me, I didn't go to them," I told him.

He was silent for a moment. "So it was luck?" he finally asked.

"Isn't everything?" I replied. "I'm lucky that people got behind me and supported me."

"Well that doesn't do much good for those of us with more skill than luck, I guess." He actually said that.

Wow.

I began grinding my teeth. "And that means..." I sort of asked with my trailing verbal ellipsis.

"You admitted yourself, you dropped out of college," he said.

"So you feel that having a degree makes you skilled in writing a book?" I asked pretty bluntly.

"Well, yeah," he answered.

"And that skill cost what, 40 grand? 50 grand?" I asked. And before he could answer, I said "Glad I paid absolutely nothing to learn to write and instead bought all those rabbits' feet."

"Wow..." he said. "That's kinda rude."

"Yep," I said. "And you're in luck. I just flipped a coin and it came up tails, which means I get another book deal. Look for this story in it when it comes out."

He sat there, stunned.

"I'll sign it for you, if you want," I added. "Do you want me to add the 'PhD' at the end of your name?"

He hung up.

So, today was the first day since that conversation that I've seen him at the gym. He came right up to me and said "Dude, I have to apologize..."

"Hey, doc," I said, interrupting him. "Get your book out yet?"

He chuckled that fake ass chuckle people chuckle when they'd rather be slapping you than chuckling. "Nope, not yet," he said, then continued on his original track. "I apologize, I was pretty rude the other day."

"Not at all," I said. "I've met self-important entitled people in the past. I know what you lot are like." I started putting weights on a bar so I could actually do something useful while in the building besides wasting my time with the guy.

He sorta stammered, then blurted out, "So, when can we get that coffee?"

I looked up at him. "Got a quarter?" I asked.

He patted his pockets. "No?" he replied.

I looked around the gym and caught the eye of a guy we both know. "Hey, got a quarter?" I asked him. He dug into his bag and produced a nickel. "Good enough," I said, and I took it from him. "Call it," I said to the good doctor, and flipped it into the air.

"Heads," he said with a strange look.

It came up tails.

"Sorry man," I said, "Looks like you're going to have to rely on that talent of yours, cause you're just not lucky enough."

He looked me up and down, smirked, and walked away.

1.05.2011

You Want To Know My Religious Beliefs? Okay, Fine, Here You Go

You know, I can probably pull out an email a month for the past ten years where someone has either asked why I am an atheist, or called me an asshole because I am an atheist, or says that atheists can't possibly understand why Christians do what they do, etcetera.

I'm not an Atheist. It's almost comical the degree to which Christian people cannot understand that "Not Christian" ≠ "Atheist".

I'm also not a liberal, but conservatives can't seem to understand that people who don't agree with them ≠ Liberal. It's probably the same people. I need to write a script which compares all the hatemail I've received over the years to determine senders. I'll get on that, sometime around the time that I start caring about the opinions and feelings of people who start off their arguments with some sentiment which boils down to "You're wrong because you're an Atheist / Liberal."

You don't know me, apparently. And that's fine, you probably don't want to. I definitely don't know you if you're going to assume I'm wrong, wholesale -- on everything -- because you've deduced (incorrectly) that I believe in this or that.

First and foremost, I believe that my beliefs are exactly that -- the things I've chosen to accept in the absence of fact, guided by what evidence I've received, to help me put together strings of events or fill gaps left open by history (or my limited understanding of an infinite universe).

I do not care if you accept my beliefs. I do not care if you choose to believe them, or choose to think they're stupid, or choose to believe a different set of beliefs. Because they're just beliefs. Whether or not you understand this, beliefs are choices, and I'm not about to step on your right to make decisions which help you make it through the day, and I believe you owe me the same courtesy.

And that's where things start to fall apart -- the moment your personal beliefs extend any further than the immediate space beyond the tip of your nose (or, if you're a typical American, like I am, the space just beyond the area of your belly button, whichever is the furthest extended point of your body).

The reason I'm so hard on Christianity is really because, of all the religions I'm familiar with, it's the most hypocritical. Well, next to Hitchens Atheists. They're actually the most hypocritical religion, because they don't even think they're a religion. But I'll get to them in a minute.

And I'm not talking about hypocritical people. Christianity is rife with, for instance, men who go to strip clubs or cheat on their wives during the week, then show up on Sunday to ask for forgiveness. Or, people who sport many-thousand-dollars' coats or shoes or cars to a service where they're worshiping a man who gave freely to the poor. Every religion has their hypocrites, and in my experience, the ratio of horribly hypocritical Christians (or Fashion Christians, as I call them, who wear their spirituality on their sleeve for social benefit) versus honest, belief-led, good spirited, really damn great people who are Christians is about 1:1.

I'd argue that this is the same with any religion. In fact, I'd say is the same with any sampling of any group of people in any demographic for any purpose, because before I believe anything else, I accepted that the world is in balance and as it should be. For every bad there is a good, for every dark there is a light.

No, my biggest issue with Christianity is the hypocrisy found in the absolute basest tenet of the faith itself:
"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only son, so that whosoever believe in him shall not perish but will have everlasting life." --John 3.16
If you're like very other Christian I've ever tried to explain this to, you're probably shaking your head right now. That's a message of hope, you'll say. That's God's gift to the world.

Let's break it down:

God loves the world. Check.

God gave the world his only son. Fine, okay. I'll accept this aspect of the myth (not myth as in "lie" but as in "story", which is what every single religion is based on).

His only son died in a sacrifice made by God. This was the father putting the son to death. Why? So that I may be absolved from sin.

BUT! And here's where it sucks: I can only be absolved from sin if I choose to accept the sacrifice. If I do not, God will not extend the benefit of the gift given the world.

Putting it all together: GOD'S LOVE IS CONDITIONAL. The all-knowing, all-powerful creator of all things only loves those who love him back. God loves me so much, that I have to accept a sacrifice made to absolve me of sin. If I do not accept this sacrifice, I'm not absolved of sin, and thus spend eternity in hell.

Hell is described by the Bible and is generally accepted to be, well... Hell. It sucks. It's eternal damnation. It's difficult and punishing and really, really bad people go there to be forced for eternity to lay face-down on white hot plates of metal with one ton weights strapped to their back, or listen to The Barenaked Ladies, or other equally distasteful things for all of eternity.

Or, as it happens, even really good people who, by choice or by not being born to the right set of parents in the right country and not being indoctrinated with lessons from the "good" book, who might spend all of their lives helping others or even just smiling and generally spreading pleasantness around them. Because they didn't accept this sacrifice made by a loving God.

God loves me so much, he's going to punish me if I don't love him back. If that's not hypocritical, I don't know what is.

The way I understand love, it does not work this way. I've told my wife a few times in our lives that I love her so much, if it took being away from me to be happy, I'd have to let her go. Her happiness is the ultimate goal of my love for her. And if I make her unhappy, and I truly love her, I can't see any way to rectify keeping her around or holding her down just so I can have her. That is not love. That's ownership. That's coveting. That's dominion.

Love isn't force. It's not asking people to love you back, or else you are going to punish them. Love is a powerful thing that exists in absence of the promise of reward. When you love something with all your heart, the only thing you want is for it to be happy. Wanting it to be near you is a selfish thing, because you're holding it to yourself. If it chooses to be near you, you should feel honored and rewarded -- and if it chooses not to be, you stop loving it? You don't want the best for it? You will punish it?

And before you give me the whole "A loving parent punishes its child when it misbehaves" argument: ETERNAL. DAMNATION. That's not a spanking. It's not a guidance action made to teach a creation the finer points of social behavior patterns, it's punishment and pain and torture forever. It's abandonment. Because of a choice not to accept the sacrifice made to protect me from making bad choices.
Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son. -- John 3:18
That's not only disgusting, it's also very typically human. And that, to me, sounds like a God made in our image, not the other way around. I will say it plainly, in print, so that God and all concerned can understand: I will not be the willing plaything or property of anyone or anything, no matter how powerful; no matter how severe the threat to my person or being. Ever.

If that means spending eternity doing knuckle push-ups on broken glass with that stupid "One Week" song playing over a loudspeaker, so be it. That's not foolish, it's utterly dogmatic and stubborn. It's choosing punishment over servitude.

I am as God made me. And if he finds fault with it, well now... He must not be a very perfect God. Do better with your next creation, sir.

Now, there are certainly aspects of Christianity which I like and have adopted for myself. I believe that Jesus Christ, who is Jesus of Nazareth, existed and was probably a really great guy. I believe he was a fine teacher and a shining example of the greater parts of our species. I believe him to be the son of God insofar that I believe that Martin Luther King, Muhammad, Issac Newton, Gandhi, Adolf Hitler and Justin Bieber to be sons of God. Or you. Or me.

Just because someone is charismatic and has the ability to lead does not make them in any way holy, beyond those who don't quite see it in them and choose not to follow them.

I believe in the teachings of Jesus Christ, and will give of my time and my material wealth to those who have less than I. I don't need to prove it to you -- if you've spent any time reading what I write, you know the amount of time Andrea and I spend involved with charities and social service. I understand the teachings of Jesus Christ. But I stop short of believing that he was any different than any other thoughtful and intelligent teacher.

I've also researched religions of the world beyond Jesus, and found far too many similarities to the "God - Mary - Jesus" and "God - Jesus - Holy Spirit" mythos for it to be an original story for me. For a little light reading, try reading a comparison of the lives of Jesus and Horus, whose myth existed nearly ten thousand years before Jesus's. And Christianity didn't borrow only from Egyptian mythology. Dietic sons have existed so long as dieties have, which is to say as long as humans have been able to conceptualize them. It started with stories explaining why the sun was in the sky and went from there. Which is why I believe it's only that -- a story. A parable, even, if Jesus were a mouse and the world were an elephant with a thorn made of sin in its foot.

But I also understand that I'm making a choice to believe or not believe in the story. I've decided not to. I've decided instead to practice as much of the teachings of this teacher as I can, because he brought to the table some really valuable lessons. As did Carl Sagan, Henry Rollins and Douglas Adams, among several thousand others. I learn what I can from whom I can and try to apply it the best I can to my life.

But no matter how wise or thoughtful or deep I find any aspect of any passage, I am not about to go impose my will upon another person and force them to live life as I've decided it should be lived. Sure, I'll share my opinions on it... But here, in the context of a webpage with my name writ large atop it (and in the domain name), or in books with my name plastered on the cover. You know where you are when you get a dose o' Joe, and you're free to leave anytime you want. I'm not going to hold you down or force you to listen. Show up when you want. Listen to what you want. Take what you want from it. Live a good life. That's all I care about.

These throngs of bible-thumping neanderthal pieces of shit out there in there in the world, selectively enforcing only the laws from their religions' texts which happen to correspond with their personal prejudices... Well, let's just say that if I didn't subscribe to the philosophy in the previous paragraph, there'd be a pretty sizable dent in each and every one of their heads... As many as I could get to before I got arrested, anyway.

That they choose to read from the Bible and claim God -- the all powerful, all knowing creator -- wants life to be this way, and they are merely working through him to achieve it... It's disgusting. Just plain gross.

To pick just one example of several hundred I could choose, let's discuss the concept of gay marriage. Why? Because I have many gay friends, several of whom have committed themselves for the rest of their lives to another person who, if that person falls sick and dies, they can't legally make decisions for or manage their property the way I can with my wife. And the thought of not being able to be an actual husband to my wife makes me so sick in the heart, I can only imagine what my friends must feel each time they consider the fact that this huge group of supposedly loving, caring, wonderful people impose their beliefs on the whole of society to the point that these wonderful people, who I love very much, can't legally love one another.

That's why.

Gay people cannot choose to legally bind themselves to a legal contract which unites two people into one shared entity. Why? Because a book filled with chapters written across a span of several thousand years, many thousands of years ago, which people have chosen to believe is a rulebook for life has three archaic passages which say it's an abomination for people of the same sex to lay with one another. My favorite:
If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads. -- Leviticus 20:13
This is the same book, mind you, which says eating pork is an abomination. Yet, for some reason, Jesus's sacrifice cleansed the animals and supposedly absolved us all from sin. Except when we love someone who is the same gender as us. Surely, God -- who loves us all, mind you, and gave his only son so that we can spend forever with him because of love! Love! LOVE! -- could see past the whole "eew, his pee pee touched his pee pee" aspect of a rote animal behavior to the true nature of why two people, of any gender, race, creed, background, whatever, might put past themselves their own selfish nature in order to share life with another person.

No. "I'm God, and I made my kid hang from a crucifix for three days, starving and bleeding from the side until he died. You think I'm going to let your dicks touch and get away with it?"

That's not my idea of God... An all powerful, all knowing hypocrite.

Most Christians believe that God made us in his image. If this is true, that means God is, at least in some part, gay. Either that, or he is imperfect. Which is it?

Furthermore, why do Christians selectively decide this is a law of God which must be followed in this day and age, but others shouldn't? Here in its entirety, is the "Letter to Dr. Laura" which made the rounds a few years ago. The point it makes is exactly mine: Why do Christians selectively follow these laws and rules?

Dear Dr. Laura,

Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God's Law. I have learned a great deal from your show, and I try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can. When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind him that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination. End of debate.

I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some of the specific laws and how to best follow them.

a) When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord (Lev 1:9). The problem is my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?

b) I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?

c) I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of menstrual uncleanliness (Lev 15:19-24). The problem is, how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offense.

d) Lev. 25:44 states that I may indeed possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you
clarify? Why can't I own Canadians?

e) I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself?

f) A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an Abomination (Lev 11:10), it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don't agree. Can you settle this?

g) Lev 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle room here?

h) Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev 19:27. How should they die?

i) I know from Lev 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?

j) My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev 19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them? (Lev 24:10-16) Couldn't we just burn them to death at a private family affair like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws? (Lev. 20:14)

I know you have studied these things extensively, so I am confident you can help.

Thank you again for reminding us that God's word is eternal and unchanging.

Your devoted disciple and adoring fan.

Hypocrisy.

And so, that's why I am so hard on Christianity. I've read the Bible, cover to cover (not all in one sitting, mind you). I've read the Quran. I've read the Torah (which, I'll save you the trouble, is just the Old Testament Bible with a few extra Shaloms). I choose not to accept these books as law books for my life, because I also choose not to accept the description of God they've provided.

God, as I understand him, is not a "him", it is an "it." It's the tie that binds; the force which drives the universe to keep expanding and for atoms to bond and form molecules. It's the underlying energy which can neither be created nor destroyed. It's the space between; that omnipresent glue which holds everything together.

The Greek philosopher Democritus once said, "Nothing exists except atoms and empty space. Everything else is just opinion." 

I believe God fills that space. It is the glue that holds us together. And the more I see trends in human evolution, even as simple as concepts and ideas that seem to arise in separate locations at the same time and spread like wildfire... The more I believe in that connection. And I think that being in tune with that connection is being in tune with God.

God talks to me all the time; most especially in moments when I'm 
tuned as completely into my surroundings as I can be -- on hikes, or when the very tip of my pen touches the paper, or when I'm trying to "feel" the light on a subject I'm trying to draw. I especially feel God in music. When those perfect vibrations are found by a talented musician and it not only fills our ears but sweeps our bodies in waves and we feel it... That's part of God talking to us. Because it's part of one person's soul talking to us in a language we all understand.

God is in us all and binds us together. God IS the universe. God is existence. It's corporeal and exists and is the harmonic hum which vibrates within us all (and within all things). And I do believe in it. I'm still trying to come to terms with it and research it and understand it.

I don't worship it. I don't worship anything. I don't think that an all-powerful, all-knowing force requires my subservience. I don't believe that anything with unlimited power would require that mortals revere it. More than that, I don't think that an all knowing creator could make the mistake of creating a being which willfully denies it and then punish it for doing exactly what it was created to do.

I do not believe that there may be, somewhere in the multiple layers of reality, some being sitting on a mountaintop lobbing lightning bolts of judgement at gay people. I believe that this entity exists in the minds of people who need a higher power which justifies their beliefs. "God says it, so it must be true, so it's okay for me to hate."

And to get to where I am now, at 33 (almost 34), I had to do a lot of learning on what I didn't believe. And that's why I've read what I've read, gone to services where I've gone to services, talked to whom I've talked to... I'm no better than anyone else who believes a thing because they were taught it. Belief is belief. It's the acceptance of a thing in the absence of that thing's existence.

I believe my wife is at work right now and not sleeping with another man or robbing a bank. I can't be there to be certain, but all that I know about her guides me to this conclusion. You believe that God is the creator of all things, that he gave his only human son in sacrifice that you may live a life free from the confines and condemnation of original sin.

The difference between my beliefs and theirs? My beliefs allow for them to have their beliefs, and I'm not going to go impose my will on someone who isn't doing anything with their actions which will harm me or anyone else.  Because ultimately, what you spend your time thinking about at home in your own time doesn't affect me one bit. But the second you act on it, I get to respond.

Stay away from my rights and the rights of others. Stop changing history to bend to the nature of what you choose to believe. Feel free to tell me to shut up, or hate what I say, just as much as I tell you to shut up and hate what you say. Just understand that when you take action based on your beliefs, I'm going to take action based on mine.

So there you go. I'm not an atheist. I'm certainly without religion, and have been ever happier the longer I stay away from it. And in the proper contexts, I'm just as critical of Islam, Judaism, and even Hinduism as I am on Christianity when the need arises.

Critical is not "anti." I call into question things that make no sense to me.

But here's the really, REALLY interesting thing: In my ten years of doing this, I've never once had an Islamic person, a Jew or a Hindu email me and demand that I share my belief system with them, or else I'm an Athiest. It seems that Christians don't really dig "critical." So yes, the vast majority of my reactions on this blog and elsewhere are toward Christians... Because for some reason, it's only Christians who feel the need to "save me" constantly.

And what you get here, when you come here -- by your own choice, mind you -- is reactions to things. The day a Muslim sends me email or writes something that pisses me off, you'll get an earful on that too. Just hasn't happened yet. Tells me a lot.

I don't believe all Christians are bad people or that all of them are out there ready to impose their will on me. As I said before, I have a LOT of Christian friends. I love them. If you haven't figured out much else about me,  surely you know by now that I don't waste time being around people I can't stand. I don't do that. Hiding yourself around people to be socially accepted is loathsome and disgusting and false. I genuinely like and love my Christian friends. They genuinely like and love me.

But I will say that I find the underlying tenet of Christianity to be hypocritical. And above all else, I loathe hypocrisy. This doesn't mean I loathe Christians. I judge all people based on their actions and not much else. Those who act according to Jesus's teachings, I find to be wonderful people. They act in accordance with their beliefs. That itself is not hypocrisy. Believing in the tenets of Christianity is not hypocrisy. The act itself is not hypocritical. It just so happens that the foundation of the religion to which they ascribe, to me, is.

I just feel that, if you're going to choose something from the Bible to build your life around, how about starting with this:
Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart: thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbour, and not suffer sin upon him. -- Lev 19:17
I just think that your beliefs should stay the hell out of my rights and life. That goes for everyone, including (and in some cases, especially) Hitchens Atheists. You're not actually Atheists, you're Anti-Theist. Just for the record -- you guys are a religion. You have organized yourselves around a belief -- that there is no God. You're pushing your will on others in the name of fact and truth. Welcome to your religion-based crusade. You're on Jihad. You're everything you profess to hate.

Hypocrites.

So there you go. A question I've been asked no fewer than 20 times a year for the past 10 years, that I've successfully avoided or ignored until now. And why now? Because I think that as time moves forward and I keep doing what I'm doing (whatever it is I'm doing here; I still haven't figured that part out yet), lines need to be drawn in the sand. You need to know what you're getting into when you pay attention to me. There's no secrets. For the past 10 or whatever years that I've been writing on the internet, I didn't mean to keep my religious beliefs (or lack thereof) a secret per se. I just never thought they were important.

The more I criticize religion, however, the more important they become. And so, that's where I stand. I believe in a higher power. I call it God for lack of a better term. I believe God to be love. I also believe it to be unifying, cleansing, enriching and wonderful when you pay attention to the grand nature of how delicate every creation is. When you look at the structure of cells and beyond them, molecules -- and beyond them, atoms, protons, neutrons, electrons, strange behavior at a distance, quarks, quantum events and so on...

And I'm not going to blow you up, fly airplanes into you, or protest your wedding to make you see I'm right.

1.03.2011

How To Keep Your New Year's Resolutions

First: Don't call them resolutions.

Resolutions are formal declarations. They end up being these grandiose affairs, even if you never share them with anyone. They're a mark made to denote a turning point or change. The problem is, they start from a place where we're unhappy with ourselves. "I resolve to lose weight." "I resolve to eat healthier." "I resolve to write more."

These are declarations that, by stating what you want to do, actually expose exactly what you don't like about yourself. And every time you think about these goals, two things is going to happen: Either you'll succeed for the day and remind yourself what you don't like about yourself, or you'll fail for the day and consider yourself a failure for "not being better."

You're building failure into the plan when you do it like that, because you will never, ever be this perfect thing you've created as an ideal to aspire to. It's not realistic. You can't help but fail -- and when you do, you've become a failure.

I am going to put this on its own line, because it's very important that you read it, understand it, absorb it and live by it:

FUCK THAT NOISE.

Don't beat yourself up with your aspirations. Your aspirations and desires and wants for yourself should be positive things; things that -- when you think about them -- fill you with joy. Not dread. So, don't call them resolutions.

Call them goals. Call them affirmations. Call them whatever you like. I call mine a yearly to-do list. And that leads me to the second thing.

You can't achieve concepts. Don't choose amorphous, shapeless things as your goals. "Eating healthier" is not a thing, it's a concept. "Eating 2,000 calories a day" is a thing. "Eating less than 150g carbohydrates" is a thing. "Eat no High Fructose Corn Syrup" is a thing. And, each individually is actually "eating healthier." Do you see what I mean?

"Losing weight" is a thing, but it is too big a thing that covers too much. You can lose weight in a thousand different ways, the simplest of which is cutting off body parts. Here's a helpful hint: Make your yearly to-do list a bunch of verbs. "Run every day." "Write a book." Something measurable. And the third and most important step involves actually measuring that goal:

Get a calendar. This piece of advice comes from none other than Jerry Seinfeld. You need a paper wall calendar, not a digital one, not your iPhone, not a joke-a-day calendar, but an actual big block month by month calendar with big boxes for each day.

At the top of each page, write the goal you're achieving -- write your book, work out, eat 2000 calories a day, whatever it is. And every single day, make it a point to do that thing, and then put a big red X in the day.

Now, do it the next day, and the next, and the next. Soon you have a chain of big red X's. Don't break the chain.

This one tool to measure work is what helped me lose over 100 lbs. and play football. It got me through writing two books (and a third right now). It keeps me writing this blog. It absolutely works.

The secret is in creating a motivation that comes from nowhere else but inside you. It doesn't come from other peoples' opinions of how you look or what you're doing; it's a soul-satisfying measurement and record of consistency and accomplishment. It turns the volume down on the aspiration aspect and amps up the loudness on the "get it done" part.

Lastly, treat each and every day as a unit of measure, not the year. Did you eat less than 2000 calories today? No? Okay, you can tomorrow. Start that chain again. Did you write on your book today? It's alright -- it's just a single space gap in the calendar chain. Start again tomorrow. Don't break the chain.

Breaking the chain is not failure. It's just a stoppage. It's the machines shutting down at the assembly line; the lights going out at the ballpark. Flip the switch and get those suckers back on. The game is not lost just because it went dark for a bit, it just stopped a while and got delayed.

Finish the game.


Gina Trapani has a great post about lessons learned about keeping your goals. In it, she reflects a few of these ideas, and shares some of her own. I hope you read it, and I hope this advice helps you.

And just a little bonus advice: I've been emailed a lot this year (already) about advice on writing a book as a New Year's goal. This is the best advice I can give, aside from pointing you to my guide to writing and publishing your book:

Understand that books don't actually exist at the point you write them. They exist after you've completed a story, and that story can't be complete until you've written it all down, gone back through it, edited it, cleaned it up, sped up the slow parts, slowed down the too-fast parts... In other words, a book is not 200 pages of writing. It's the crafting of a story, and typing it all out is just one aspect of it all. A book shouldn't be seen as a labor of putting X words on N pages across Y days. It's done when the story's done.

Same with a comic or graphic novel or movie or anything else. The physical act of getting the content into the medium is simply the translation from brain-wave to consumable format for the audience. Don't analogize it as climbing a mountain or hiking a forest or anything else, because those things start at point A and end when you reach the end. There's no clear end for a book or work of art. It ends when it tells the story you wanted to tell, not a second sooner.

So, that should make the idea of writing your book every day a little simpler. It's not about x words on the page today, it's about getting whats in your brain onto the page (or into the word processor) so you can actually do something with it.

Good luck!